Anxiety, Book Review, Contemporary, Disabled Hero, Forbidden, LGBQT, MM, Opposites Attract, Prostitution, Romance, Series

Shades of Lust (The Carnal Tower #1) by E. M. Lindsey


On a small path leading to nowhere sits a looming cathedral, once-abandoned, now hosting the most dangerous of pleasures.

And Stone Brice is the most dangerous of all: Lust. A former acrobat, Stone’s life was changed dramatically after an accident, and now he runs The Carnal Tower, a place where people can go to have their deepest and sometimes darkest fantasies realized.

Stone is a man who is rarely taken by surprise, so when he meets the artist, August Ashley, he doesn’t expect to trip and fall at his feet—literally. But there’s something about the quiet stranger in the park that Stone wants to take apart, and that feeling only gets worse the more Stone gets to know him.

Stone is well aware he can’t mix business and pleasure, but when August comes to him with a proposal for a trade—seven paintings for seven nights with Lust—he can’t say no. Not when it means he’ll be able to have August exactly the way he wants him—even if it’s just for a week.
Stone has every plan to strip August down to his very soul, but the longer the week goes on, the more Stone comes to realize that August might very well be his undoing.


Shades of Lust is the first book in The Carnal Tower series and the whole concept of a brothel and each hot male playing the part of the seven sins is brilliant.

Stone Brice’s life has not been easy but his strong will and determination have made him a successful business owner of an exclusive male escort service called The Carnal Tower. Each escort is assigned one of the seven deadly sins and plays out that sin however they wish in the bedroom. Stone’s sin is Lust and he has never had a close relationship until he meets the most intriguing man in the park. Can a lonely sinful man have a happy ever after?

August Ashley is a 43-year-old virgin painter with severe anxiety. He’s lonely and isolated in his art gallery until he meets a gorgeous and beguiling man willing to trade his body for August’s extremely realistic paintings of the seven sins. Can seven sessions of unbridled sex with the most beautiful man he’s ever met keep his heart intact?

Wow! This love story is divine. August and Stone are two lonely men who want to be loved, but life’s circumstances have not made it easy for them. It’s a wonder August can function. He has been bullied or ignored all of his life and he is finally coming to terms with his sexuality. With Stone’s kindness and understanding, August finally feels visible and wanted. Stone’s natural ability to nurture is what holds the Sins men together and what makes August trust Stone completely. August sees past Stone’s disability and his job as an escort and accepts Stone as the good man he is. I would also love to see August’s paintings of the seven sins as he completes them. I’m sure they are stunning.

It is apparent that Stone’s employees, the Sins, care deeply for him as they worry about August breaking Stone’s heart. As I learned about each one of them, the more I couldn’t wait to read their stories. Especially Stone’s brother Flint (Wrath) who seems very vulnerable and volatile all at once. I also want to note that August’s employee Gianna is a wonderful and caring friend to August as she takes care of him after his attacks without asking questions.

I highly recommend this beautifully-written story that is so much more than I expected. It is filled with profound insights into subjects such as severe anxiety, physical disabilities, and sexual awareness. The characters are compelling and the plot is intriguing and unique. 

Thank you to E.M. Lindsey for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.


Shades of Lust

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E.M. Lindsey is a bisexual, agender gay romance writer currently living in the S.E. United States.  They’re a full-time writer, Classics scholar with a penchant for Ancient Greek, and an avid collector of shoes they will never wear.  When they’re not found creating happy endings on their laptop, they’re either walking their dogs, going on hikes, or enjoying their new home.

Follow E.M. on their website, Facebook Group, Instagram, and Bookbub.


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